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Where: Pistoia (Piazza Del Duomo, Pistoia Blues Festival)
When: July 10, 2005
Written by: Emilio Vitelli

Set list:

The band only:

1) My Babe (Kenny Lovelace)
2) Honey Don’t (Robert Hall)
3) Sick & Tired (B.B. Cunningham)

Jerry Lee Lewis:

1) Why You Been Gone So Long
2) Coming Back For More
3) I Don’t Want To Be Lonely Tonight
4) Have I Told You Lately That I Love You
5) Roll Over Beethoven
6) No Headstone On My Grave
7) Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On
8) Great Balls Of Fire

Show length: about 30 minutes

Jerry Lee Lewis in Pistoia
Picture: Emilio Vitelli

It was a hot afternoon when I and my girlfriend arrived in Pistoia from Rome at about 2 P.M. We joined our friends there who attended the B.B. King show the evening before.

We reached for the square where the stage was put and the scenario was very beautiful. I hardly figured out how could merge a Blues Festival with that Middle Age architecture: the result was very suggestive.

At about 6 P.M. the festival began and I and Maria Giovanna run under the stage to get a real pole position to see the musician (heck! A big headed 2 meters tall fella was just in front of me!!! Fortunately he moved to another spot!!!). We stood up for about 4 hours watching Country Joe McDonald, Lonnie Brooks and Eric Burdon & the Animals (Not bad for opening show to Jerry Lee!!!). But when Jerry Lee’s moment was approaching I found out that all the people there, under the stage, was there, like me, just for the Killer. After Burdon, some men were preparing the scene and some of them dragged the Piano to the center of the stage (seeing that they were draggin’ it too far form where we were, we all yelled: “STOP IT!!! STOP IT!!! Wow…They listened to us….).

Then, here they came: Kenny, Buck, Bob and B.B.. After few minutes of checking they started the show. Kenny, after gently saluting Pistoia, sang My Babe, then Bob sang Honey Don’t, then B.B. sang Sick & Tired. During that number, behind the scenes I hardly saw a familiar figure….It was Jerry Lee!!!! I took some footage with my camera and I caught Jerry Lee keeping time with his head while he was preparing to enter. Then, as Sick & Tired was continuing, he finally entered, accompanied by Patrick Rocher. In a grey shirt and dark pants, he was a little bit slow and looked older than most of the people there excepted. But he’s still the Killer!!! The square was in ecstasy….Everybody yelled: JERRY! JERRY! JERRY! He waved us hello and then sat at the piano and started a very fast Why You Been Gone So Long. His voice was clear and strong enough, although the sound men were still checking the right volumes. He was clear also with piano playing (although, later on, he angry yelled to the sound men to raise up the piano volume).

Then he began with a beautiful rendition of Coming Back For More, filling the air with his voice, his little yodellin’, and his piano licks, teachin’ us what Honky Tonk is all about. But the surprise of the show, at least for me, was when he began to sing I Don’t Want To Be Lonely Tonight. It’s one on my favourite Jerry Lee song, one that I listened for long time. It was a long version (he sang the chorus four times), and every time he sang: “…the moon and the stars shinin’ deep in your eyes…” he pointed his finger and his eyes up to the sky. Sometime he slammed very strong the piano lid. Meanwhile Kenny was checking the electric fan behind Jerry. Then he began with the old standard Have I Told You Lately That I Love You. While he was singing that timeless tune, like an old snake-charmer, he shut all the square; he is the last giant of a dead breed: who could sing nowdays in that beautiful and believable way a song like this? Nobody! They're all gone. So I was very glad to witness a moment like that.

Jerry Lee came back to rock and roll us once again with a straight but short Roll Over Beethoven. Good piano solo, other piano lid smashing. Sadly he wasn’t in the mood to talk to the audience so there were short break between songs, in which he talked to Kenny.

 Then he sang No Headstone On My Grave makin’ realize us us that he is also one of the last real blues singer alive. A stunning and long version. The bluesiest piano solo I’ve ever heard.

Finally he went to the old familiar introduction with his left hand of Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (I was disappointed ‘couse I knew the show was gonna end), then the audience went wild. So with Great Balls Of Fire. Unfortunately, some stupid drunk guy began to dance too wildly disturbing us so I couldn’t enjoy this last number. Both his trademark songs were played as if time never passed for him. Then, while the band was still playing GBOF, Jerry Lee stood up and sat on the keys,  and, waving goodbye, he left the stage. Somebody began to yell: WE WANT MORE! But, by the time, the Man disappeared through the lanes of Pistoia town.

A short but intense show in which the Killer showed us he can still Rock & Roll. Surely he looked sick and old, but the good thing is that he knows that; he doesn’t do the things he was doing on stage years ago ‘cause he knows he can’t, but still he can deliver a first rate entertaining show.

He’s still the master!

I and Maria Giovanna went back to our car and drove home through the night to Rome. Driving, while Maria Giovanna was sleeping, in the darkness of the night I could still the songs in my ears and I realized that I am a very fortunate guy for having attended a show by a legend, a musical hero of mine and of many people around the world. I’ll never forget that night. And this is a guarantee fact!!!



Last update: August 17, 2007
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